Thursday, December 6, 2007

bLoG sTaGe 8......IN shoot or not to shoot?

After coming across a classmate's blog and reading an article that really shocked me, I had to raise question and voice my opinion of a law that I feel is reasonable, yet lacks description and authority. If a law is made that is not detailed, then the law can be broken in many ways because of the fact that it was never understood or the meaning is not expressed in the right way. Which leads me to my thoughts and feelings towards Mr. Horn’s story.

Texas law allows people to use deadly force to protect their own property to stop arson, burglary, robbery, theft or criminal mischief at night. I do feel that is logical for public safety and one should have the right to protect themselves and their family members. However, Mr. Horn, shot and killed two men that had burglarized his neighbors home, not his, but were on his property. He did call police and informed them he was going to shoot the men so they wouldn’t get away with it and that is exactly what he did, even after they asked him several times to stay in his house and not shoot.

So first, I question the law because I feel it should have been more descriptive and stated that one could use deadly force to protect their own self if a criminal was breaking or entering into their own home, and only if the criminal enters into the home could the individual then use deadly force. In result, people would less likely shoot at people on their property that aren’t really harming them. That is scary because I feel sorry for anyone standing on someone’s lawn by accident when the person in the house might be aiming a gun at them for the wrong assumptions. I do realize Mr. Horn witnessed a crime, however it really didn’t involve him unless the men were to threaten him and make way into his home. With this law being assessed the way it is, people like Mr. Horn feel they can shoot at people who are committing crimes so they don’t get away with anything illegal. Therefore, I think the law needs to allow individuals with the authority to use deadly force only if the criminal is inside their house or is shooting at them on their property, or else innocent people will end up dead, or the cops won’t even get the phone call. Unless there is evidence that someone was breaking in, then you can’t get away with shooting at somebody, so let them enter before you shoot at them, or the crime might be turned against you in my opinion.

To answer the hypothetical question, no I would not shoot unless they enter inside my house and I felt threatened. I would not have the right to shoot the burglars if they didn’t steal anything from me, I would call the cops just as Mr. Horn did, however I would let them finish it out since it is there duty.

I do not think Mr. Horn had the right to shoot the burglars, so I disagree to an extent. The problem is that he thought he had the right to but he was told not to by the dispatcher and didn’t listen. Since his call to police was recorded, he could be held accountable for disregarding police authority and I do think he should be punished. My point is that if the law was based only on if the criminal enters into one’s house and that individual feels threatened, then pursue deadly force. Otherwise until they do so, do not shoot because these days you can’t just say property because that could mean land or lawn, which isn’t always purposely being trespassed.

Monday, November 26, 2007

State Program to Replace Old Vehicles Delayed.....

A program that allows low-income drivers to replace old vehicles with the help of 3500 dollars towards a new vehicle purchase has been delayed. It may seem like a joke to some, but the officials of the state program deeply consider it to be beneficial. This article was posted in the Houston Chronicle, and it caught my attention because I recently purchased a new car at 19 years of age and if this program would have been available then, I would have postpone my purchase until January of 2008 to possibly save 3500 dollars. Now, that would have been nice, but there is a lot more to this deal then what’s being acknowledged. I drove a 1988-year model truck, so I would have met the requirements of the vehicle being at least 10 years old. However, that is only a small portion of the rules concerning those who are eligible.

The main goal for the state program is to keep our environment clean and reduce the pollution put out into the air from older vehicles. Starting in 1996, automakers equipped U.S. vehicles with more sophisticated and precise fuel-injection systems, better sensors, and improved computers to meet the clean air standards. Therefore, the previous year models are highly risking our atmosphere.

I completely believe in doing anything possible to keep our environment clean, and I feel getting older vehicles off the roads would indeed help. On the other hand, I think the program is overlooking the reason for why low-income drivers are driving old vehicles. The last thing the low-income class is worrying about is environmental issue when it comes to the year model of their transportation. Financially, people just can’t always afford to upgrade their vehicle to a more recent car or truck, or they can’t make monthly payments due to other expenses. So, they drive what they have because it gets them where they need to go whether it’s old or barely running.

My point is, I don’t think giving a 3500-dollar voucher toward a new vehicle will be helping the low-income class. For example, one of the qualifications is that the owner’s annual income cannot exceed 61,950 dollars for a family of four. Also, the car cannot cost more than 25,000 dollars. For some families driving a new car is not a priority when their annual income is low, and I don’t think many are going to see this voluntary option as a way to get ahead. I realize the state has up to 100 million dollars available for the program and believes to get at least 40,000 old vehicles off the road in the Dallas and Houston areas.

The article states that, “the hang-up now is with the salvage crushers used on the car once they have been retired.” Hopefully if this program becomes effective, then the disposal process will follow after the car is turned over and not used for other purposes since the whole point was to stop the pollution from invading our environment. In other words, the program needs to prepare for negative conflict and income boundaries.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Response to Safety in Public Schools......

After reading an article posted in a classmate’s blog, “The Second Hand from Desiree,” I felt it was important to discuss why a law hasn’t already been enforced to keep public schools safe. In order to reduce the risk of major tragedies happening within the schools, something needs to be done and I don’t feel that it takes a genius to figure out what that something is. What I don’t understand is why it seems that in order for something to get noticed that needs serious attention, a tragedy has to occur before anyone reacts to the situation. If we already know that a location is dangerous, then it should be taken care of and not have any safety issues in the first place to prevent anything terrible from occurring. For instance, a major intersection that is obviously very dangerous that does not have traffic lights might take years and many fatalities later before those lights are put in to help reduce car accidents.

This leads me to what you get when you google school shootings. There are pages of school history reports that show all the disasters and massacres in public Schools and Universities that have happened over the years. In 1927, the Bath school disaster, in 1966, the university of Texas massacre, in 1999, the Columbine High school massacre, and most recent in 2007, the Virginia Tech massacre. So, what is the hold up, there is plenty of history showing that schools are not safe and what has happened in the past does not need to be repeated. Therefore, something needs to be done to keep weapons out of schools. An article reads that after the columbine shooting, the massacre provoked debate regarding gun control laws, the availability of firearms in the United States, and gun violence involving youths. There also was increased emphasis on school security, the gun culture, the use of pharmaceutical anti-depressants by teenagers, violent films and music, teenage internet use, and violent video games. The word that caught my attention was debate, but was anything done after the debate to make sure that a school massacre never happened again.

I recently graduated from high school and I am currently walking the halls at ACC to go from class to class and I see nothing being done to keep the school safe. I do believe metal detectors should be placed in front of every entrance to the school and there should be security guards throughout the inside and around the outside of the school premises. Not just one guard hanging out somewhere and not just a cop car circling the parking lot. I think that whatever the student is carrying should be searched through. Whether it is a backpack or a tote bag, a guard should make sure that there are no weapons inside the book bags. I know that many would say that is against privacy rules, but it might be the only way to really make sure that nothing is getting through the metal detectors and inside the school. The hot-line number for students to call in case of any kind of emergency is a good idea and will provide the students with security if they know they can contact someone right away. Cell phones should be allowed without question, however students need to have respect and only use them for emergency related issues. If a law is placed among the school districts stating that every school follows the rules when it comes to security and metal detectors, then I think schools would consist of a safe atmosphere for the students to learn in. The stories I have read about tragic events in public schools and universities are very sad and I hope that the government makes safety throughout schools a priority so that all students are protected. Education is important, but being safe while gaining an education is more important.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Student loans depend on voters

Student loans depend on voters; a headline in the Austin American Statesman written by Ralph Haurwitz immediately converted to a 60 point font and started shouting at me to read as I recognized my status in the title. The role of being a college student is very challenging and like everything else, money is always a stressful factor. Figuring out how to pay for an education, while also maintaining a job to support yourself in the mean time isn’t all that easy. However, education is the key to success these days and may result in a bright future if accomplished. Therefore, the importance of going to school is a high demand, but for those who simply can’t afford it, they must rely on student loans and financial aid to cover tuition until graduation.

With that said, the November 6 ballot will hold two propositions that relate to college students and money. Proposition one would tune up the constitution to reflect the fact that the Legislature has shifted Angelo State University from the Texas State University system to the Texas Tech University system. The second proposition would authorize the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to borrow 500 million dollars for low interest loans to college students. Proposition two is the main focus.

Basically, the state issue’s bonds, which are like IOU’s and the investors who purchase them, are paid back over time with interest. The bond would not consume any tax dollars; instead investors would be reimbursed with the student loan payments. The average loan through the Hinson-Hazlewood program this year was for 9,300 dollars and the interest rate was 6 percent. In 2009, the coordinating board’s bonding authority will run out if proposition 2 is not passed.

The bond is left to the voters to determine whether or not either proposition will be approved. Supporters for the proposition one say the longstanding program doesn’t cost taxpayers anything because the students’ loan payments are used to pay back bond debt and cover administrative expenses. Those against the proposition say the program puts private lenders at a disadvantage because, unlike government agencies, they need to make a profit. I think people should consider the fact that college is an important step in life and is something that everyone should get an opportunity to pursue. College is very expensive and tuition will only increase in price as more and more students enroll in college. Five hundred million dollars is a big chunk of money and would really be helpful for those who rely on student loans and since the proposition isn’t going to effect taxpayers then there should be no question on whether or not to pass the bond. The quote, “children are our future,” should be directed as children need a good education in order to have a future because the future that awaits is going to be very tough without a degree since the population of students attending college is growing at a fast rate. Hopefully voters will take into count the importance of student loan money being available for those who can’t afford to pay for school.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Report details Mexico's cartels, threats to U.S.

A headline in the Ausitn American statesman that reads, Report details Mexico's cartels, threats to U.S. caught my attention as I realized that drugs and violence is already corrupting the United States without the interference of Mexico. It might as well have stated, Report informs the United States that the threat of drugs is in the U.S. path and don't forget about the violence that is attached with the illegal distribution coming your direction.

According to Kelly Shannon, author of the article, a seventeen page report has been released and issued to fellow members of Governor Rick Perry's Border Security Council. Throughout the report, Fred Burton, vice president for counterterrorism with Stratfor is stating that "the deteriorating security situation has profound implications not only for Mexico but also for the United States, since drug violence increasingly crosses the border."

The report is suggesting that the U.S. is going to pay the price for the escalating violence from Mexico's durg cartels that are spilling across the border due to the weakness of Law enforcement on the U.S. side. It may seem that the United States has a powerful security system, however corruption, poor coordination, and lack of resources has taken over and is defeating the purpose of a border when it has become a weak, powerless line that criminals are bypassing.

The main focus here should be on the number of drug related deaths in Mexico. In 2005 there were 1,543 and more than 2,100 in 2006 which leads to the estimation of 2007 being the deadliest year yet. You would think with such a high number in deaths two years ago, why hasn't something already been done to prevent this from happening. The most shocking problem is the corruption of the officiers patrolling the border and the proof that it is occurring is through those serving time for drug trafficking, extortion, and corruption. Former County Sheriff Conrado Cantu is serving 24 years in federal prison for breaking the law and letting this occurr in his territory.

I do understand that the threat against the law enforcement working along the border is probably very brutal, however enforcing the law is very important in order to have a strong security system that nobody can get by and if the criminals are aware of the security strength then most likely they will not try to cross. Therefore, if Texas is going to illustrate the importance of border security being a top priority throughout the state then we need to question it and make sure that it becomes a priority that is being tended to soon. Especially if 100 million dollars is being tossed around because officials don't know where to spend the money. It will only continue to get worst and spread into the United States which will eventually be impossible to control because of hesitation and the delayed process of acting immedialety to a conflict that needed serious attention. If the U.S. wants to prevent this from spilling onto our side then we better stop it from happening before drugs and violence take over the entire United States community.

Article can be found here.

Stratfor at

Texas Governor's office at

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Politics, privacy law and publicity combine to delay Youth Commission releases........

Let me start by describing what the TYC is and its regulations. The Texas Youth Commission or TYC is the state's juvenile corrections agency. TYC provides care, custody, rehabilitation, and reestablishment among our society for the state of Texas. The most chronically delinquent or serious juvenile offenders are put in TYC. It is for the felony level offenses committed by the youth, which is at least age 10 and less then age 17. However, if a youth has not been discharged by the age 19, then discharge is automatic because TYC authority over offenders ends at age 19.

So, the question is where should the offenders go after reaching the age 19 if they are still classified as a violent individual that has not served their full sentence. Once turning age 18, the role of being an adult kicks in and no longer places you under the category of "youth." Therefore, why the debate between TYC and the adult parole system over where an offender should be transferred or released to if they are of age to be tried as an adult.

Having 19 and 20 year old violent crime offenders who were serving sentences for aggravated violent crimes such as sexual assault, kidnapping, robbery, or even some who were convicted of murder, manslaughter or indecency should not even be a question whether or not to discharge them to only be put on parole. Especially when the parole board officials held back in fear of endangering public safety.

These violent offenders need to be put away in jail or prison, not back in the public for a second chance when some of the crimes committed would of sent them to prison in the first place if they were over the age 18. If the offender is put on parole then it should be under the adult parole system to ensure they are being evaluated and watched in the correct manner. If the adult parole system feels they are jeopardizing the public safety because most would not be approved for parole if they were coming from an adult prison, then simply lock them up until parole is an option.

If the Criminal Justice system is allowing offenders to be released because they are out of time due to their age, then it should not be kept a secret. Officials are maintaining silence because they say they are limited by confidentiality laws to share information about who is being released or transferred. A secret must mean they don't want the public knowing what kind of violent people they are releasing back into the community because they are no longer considered juveniles even though they committed serious crimes.

The youth will continue to commit crimes unless harsher punishment follows after the age 18. Being young does not make it okay to break the law and in order to make that a point, TYC and the adult parole system need to strengthen their authority and stick with what is right and safe for everyone.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Presidential candidates about to get the Lance Armstrong treatment.........

This is an article that shows an emotional goal that retired cyclist, Lance Armstrong is focusing on acheiving as if he were on his way to another amazing win at the Tour de France. As a leader and star, he works to make cancer a top priority in political issues. After a three billion dollar cancer research proposal won approval in the Texas House, Lance Armstrong was among those pushing for the important issue to pass, however worries occurred that it might not survive the Senate Finance Committee. In testimony, as a testicular cancer survivor, Lance Armstrong shared how his stepsister was about to get married without the presence of her mother, who died of breast cancer to show another story of those who have lost their lifes to cancer. The proposal passed and will appear as Proposition 15 on the November ballots.

After ending his racing career, Armstrong has approached the political arena in making cancer a national priority. Cancer kills more than 1,500 Americans a day and Armstrong feels, "cancer is far bigger than terrorism, and aids or anything due to the fact that Globally it is our biggest killer." Armstrong is pushing a bill in Congress that would expand national screening programs and holds his foundation's series for fundraising events. One being in Austin on October 13th and 14th.

Eventually, after a tough fight the bill cleared the committee and later the full Senate, now it is just up to the voters. As far as presidential, "the challenge will be competing with issues like the war in Iraq and Global warming, but when an equivalent 9/11 happens every day through cancer, it is worth the fight."

If one has any feelings or interest in the research of cancer, then reading this article will rise the hopes of many along with Lance Armstrong in hopefully suceeding the process of making cancer a more looked at concern since in previous presidential races it has had little focus. It is a good resource to see which candidates for this election may be involved in Lance Armstrong foundation.